Michael J. Sacopulos, Esq.

Westlaw Journal recently reported that a judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Duluth neurologist who claimed he was defamed by a patient’s son that criticized his bedside manner.

Dr. David McKee alleged in his lawsuit that Dennis Laurion of Duluth made false statements about McKee’s treatment of Laurion’s father to the American Academy of Neurology, St. Luke’s Hospital, colleagues and several internet websites that “solicit physician reviews and ratings.” Laurion alleged McKee failed to treat his father with dignity following a stroke. Further, Laurion posted that McKee treated his father as a “task and charting assignment.”

This defamation case came before Judge Hylden of St. Louis County, MN. Judge Hylden, who dismissed the case stating the allegedly defamatory statements were more an issue of the parties “talking about the same thing” but from different points of view. [This is difficult for me to imagine…] Additionally, the judge thought the matter unworthy of a jury’s time. At this time it is unknown if McKee will appeal the trial court’s dismissal.

There are several key “take away points” from this recent case. First, defamation suits are not a good option for physicians dealing with brutal postings. Second, the postings in this case are focused on how the physician allegedly talked to the patient and family. The postings did not comment on how the physician medically cared for the patient. Yet another example showing that rating sites reflect bedside manner and not the clinical abilities of physicians.